One step ahead of the criminals? An Israeli study tries to put an end to fingerprint forgery

The study seeks to disrupt the future activities of criminals who specialize in fingerprinting and thus prevent information security breaches. • Researchers have created innovative material that better simulates human skin in order to find a means of protection.

Recently we have witnessed an increase in the number of hackers hacking into databases and leaks of personal details of many users around the world. This of course is worrying. Many technologies use our fingerprints to allow us to perform certain actions, from turning on the PC to controlling the entrance to the office. Despite the convenience of the simple operation, the more routine the use of fingerprints, the more counterfeiting activity increases. An international study with the participation of the Hebrew University is trying to put an end to the problem.

A study published in the Journal of Forensic Sciences takes forensic science one step further and tries to predict how criminals will fake fingerprints in the future, in order to prevent them. The study was conducted by Prof. Yosef Almog and Prof. Daniel Cohen of the Hebrew University, together with Prof. Christoph Shampoo and doctoral student Michel Sagi of the University of Lausanne in Switzerland. The research team tried to adopt a way of thinking of counterfeiters and found that sophisticated materials, such as polymers, could be designed to counterfeit fingerprints, which were found to be significantly more effective than materials used today and can be detected by sophisticated reading software. The new materials overcame 3 out of the 4 smart readers tested.

Using sophisticated counterfeit software, criminals are able to use biometric data pieces perfectly, one that no one will suspect. In order to tackle delinquency, the Institute of Chemistry began to develop the field of “initiating forensic science”, which is based on the assumption that forensic science will help fight crime more, because it is able to predict the expected moves of offenders using existing forensic tools.

According to experts, with the advent of some new information security technology, criminals will already be looking for a way around it. In the field of fingerprints, this can be done by intelligent design of polymers, which mimic the properties of our skin to overcome the smart readers, so that they will not be able to identify that it is a foreign substance. “In order to predict future forging methods, we designed polymers that will be more similar to human skin in terms of their chemical structure than polymers currently used for forging fingerprints,” explains Prof. Cohen. The preparation of the materials was carried out in the laboratory when the chemical structure and physical properties of the human skin were taken into account in order to develop the ability to overcome even the most sophisticated readers.

“Research has shown that more effective fingerprint-forging materials can already be developed, and this is probably what criminals will do in the next generation of forgeries. In our view, the international community of law enforcement agencies should be informed to prepare in advance and develop better readers,” . Initiative forensic science can help law enforcement prevent crimes of other types and not just biometrics counterfeits. For example, predicting the next generation of illicit drugs that are not covered by the Drug Ordinance. Prof. Almog concludes that “we can be one step ahead of the criminals. If we know what they can do, we can develop tools to overcome the phenomenon even before it is created in the field.”

By Editor

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